The Knesset is celebrating its 67th birthday and marking the 50th anniversary of the parliament building in Jerusalem`s Givat Ram neighborhood: On January 19, Tu Bishvat, the Knesset will hold an open house for thousands of visitors from all across the country who have registered in advance for the event, which will include debates and workshops with the participation of some 80 Knesset Members.
The festive day will conclude with a special plenary session (beginning at 4 pm) during which President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposition leader Isaac Herzog and Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein will speak.
Visitors attending the open house will be able to participate in discussions with Knesset Members on various topics. The lawmakers will also hold debates between teenagers or students, and some of them will host a ”story hour” for children and teenagers. Economic Affairs Committee Chirman MK Eitan Cabel and the Chairman of the Finance Committee, MK Moshe Gafni, will discuss their roles; MK Ilan Gilon will talk about accessibility as a world-view, and MKs Benny Begin and Ahmad Tibi will discuss the work of the legislators. In addition, MKs Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin and Roy Folkman will discuss the challenges facing lawmakers in their first term, MK Eitan Broshi will discuss agriculture and settlement, and together with MK Yitzhak Vaknin he will also debate ”the secular kibbutznik verses the haredi moshavnik”. MK Nava Boker will speak about ”fire and woman”, MKs Merav Ben Ari and Esawi Frej will discuss the advancement of sports, MK Yael German will discuss legislation related to Shabbat, MK Oded Forer will talk about Tu Bishvat in Judaism, and MK Masud Ganaim will meet with visitors. MKs Cabel and Nurit Koren will discuss parenthood in the career age, MKs Aida Touma-Sliman and Sharren Haskel will talk about their experiences as first-term lawmakers, MK Mickey Levy will talk about the state`s authorities, MK Rachel Azaria will discuss leadership and MK Meir Cohen will discuss the meaning of being a citizen.
Knesset Speaker Edelstein reads to kids during ”story hour” (archives)
A special discussion will be held on the issue of life and environment, with the participation of Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay, MKs Dov Khenin, Gafni, Tamar Zandberg and Yael Cohen Paran, as well as former MKs Ophir Pines-Paz and Moshe ”Mossi” Raz. MKs Haim Jelin and Mordhay Yogev will discuss the handling of emergencies during their tenure as council heads, MKs Elie Elalouf and Eli Cohen will discuss the role of the committee chairperson, and MKs Eyal Ben-Reuven and Anat Berko will talk about leadership. MK Michal Biran will speak about her work with the parliamentary aides, MK Revital Swid will discuss violence and thuggery on the social networks, MK Omer Barlev will talk about combat fitness and MKs Avi Dichter and Folkman will also talk about leadership. A discussion on the issue of transparency will be held between MKs Stav Shafir and Uri Maklev, MK Manuel Trajtenberg will offer his interpretation to the Jewish ritual and MK Haskel will talk about the citizens` involvement in politics. Visitors will also have the opportunity to listen to the chairman of the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, MK Avraham Naguisa, speak about the periphery verses central Israel, MK Yoel Razvozov will speak about his journey from being a new immigrant and an athlete all the way to the Knesset. The chairwoman of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, MK Yifat Sasha-Biton will discuss parental education in the lives of adolescents, and MK Itzik Shmuli will conduct a workshop on the treatment of animals. MKs Tzachi Hanegbi and Hamad Amar will conduct a karate lesson before an audience, while Knesset Director-General Ronen Plot will host a discussion on the integration of persons with disabilities in the workplace.
MK Bezalel Smotrich will host a debate on the prohibition to advertise cigarettes and alcohol; MK Cohen Paran will host a discussion on civil marriage; Education, Culture, and Sports Committee Chairman MK Yakov Margi will host a debate on the transition to the use of iPads in schools, MK Ben Ari will lead a discussion on jurors in courts, MK Yoel Hasson will host a debate on equal representation of women in the Knesset, and Deputy Defense Minister MK Eli Ben-Dahan will host a debate on playing sports on Shabbat.
As part of ”story hour”, New MK Amir Ohana will read the book ”The Giving Tree” to young visitors, as will MKs Jelin and Aliza Lavie. MK Nachman Shai will read ”Library Lion”, MK Amir Peretz will read ”The Little Prince”, MK Tzipi Livni will read ”Uzu and Muzu from Kakamaruzu” and MK Shasha-Biton will read ”A Flat for Rent”. Knesset Speaker Edelstein will hold a special discussion with children`s book author Yehuda Atlas.
Some MKs will play music in Chagall Hall, along with a guest musician. MK Vaknin will play the guitar, MKs Shafir, Smotrich and Tali Ploskov will play the piano and MKs Shasha-Biton and Nahmias-Verbin will sing for the visitors.
Open house at the Knesset (archives)
Throughout the day, senior Knesset officials will offer tours of the parliament building from their own professional angle. In this way, the visitors will be able to learn about the work of Knesset Sergeant-at-Arms Yosef Grif and parliament`s legal advisor, Attorney Eyal Yinon. Knesset Secretary-General Yardena Meller-Horowitz will give tours of Plenum Hall to familiarize the visitors with the work of her department. Additional tours will be given by Minister of Science, Technology, and Space Ofir Akunis, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely and MK Oren Hazan.
Numerous activities will be held throughout the day at the Knesset plaza: In the framework of the ”Green Knesset” project, visitors will be able to generate renewable energy by pedaling stationary bicycles and also take part in solar energy and package-recycling workshops. Also at the plaza, a Lego model of the Knesset will be built, a sand artist will draw portraits, visitors will be able to play games on the Knesset`s interactive website for children, and Knesset security dogs will show off their skills. One of the most impressive activities is the presentation of a hologram of the structure of the Knesset and holograms of some of the country`s leaders. The holograms will be displayed on a regular basis to visitors who take tours of the Knesset.
At 10 am, in the Knesset`s auditorium, Speaker Edelstein and the coach of Israel`s national basketball team, Erez Edelstein, will discuss leadership, sports and politics. The panel will be hosted by MK Zouheir Bahloul, a former sportscaster. Shortly thereafter, MK Orly Levi-Abekasis will give a ”social lesson” to second graders, and Speaker Edelstein will take their questions.
Later in the auditorium, MKs Shasha-Biton, Merav Michaeli and Karin Elharrar will participate in a panel with journalists Moran Azoulay, Dafna Liel and Lilach Weissman. The panel will be hosted by the Knesset spokesperson.
On the first floor of the Committee`s Wing, visitors will be offered tours of the Knesset Channel studio and view recorded programs and bloopers.
At 12:30 pm, a celebratory afternoon (”Mincha”) prayer will be recited in the Knesset`s synagogue with Speaker Edelstein, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern, Knesset members and former Knesset members.
”The event will be a celebration of a direct encounter with thousands of people from all over the country; a meeting that will underscore the Knesset`s central place in the Israeli public since the state`s inception and the manner in which the Knesset building in Givat Ram, throughout its 50 years, has been present in a significant way in every major event in the country`s history,” Speaker Edelstein said ahead of the event.
Registration for the Tu Bishvat events at the Knesset is closed.
Several media outlets are expected to set up special studios in the Knesset to cover open house day: Army Radio will broadcast from the parliament building within the framework of ”Democracy Week”; Ynet, Walla!, Reshet Bet, Kol Israel in Arabic, ”Panet TV” and ”Bokra” will also broadcast from the parliament building.
News outlets will be able to broadcast the celebratory plenary session live via the Knesset Channel (99) beginning at 4 pm.
Guidelines for the press:
• Media outlets that wish to send reporters/photographers to cover the event are asked to coordinate their entrance in advance with Tal Vider (0506230076) or Hila Mizrahi (0506233749) from the Communications Department.
• The Spokesperson`s Unit will distribute photos and press releases throughout the day.
• The special plenary session will be broadcast live on the Knesset Channel (99).
Additional Tu Bishvat events at the Knesset:
Tu Bishvat Seder
On Wednesday, January 20 at 5 pm, a Tu Bishvat Seder will be held in Chagall Hall at the initiative of Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein. The event, during which fruits which glorify the Land of Israel are eaten and participants recite verses that express the connection between the people of Israel to the Land of Israel, will be hosted by MKs Aliza Lavie and Rachel Azaria, with help from Rabbi David Stav of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization.
On Sunday, January 24, between 11:00-12:00, the Knesset will hold a tree-planting ceremony at the community garden in Jerusalem`s Pisgat Ze`ev neighborhood with the participation of Speaker Edelstein, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, additional Knesset members and the chairman of the Israel Association of Community Centers, Aviad Freedman.
Invitations to these events will be sent separately.